Today is the deadline for states to apply for the next year of funding for the $250 million Preschool Development Grants Birth through Five (PDG B-5) program. States and jurisdictions that were awarded first-year planning grants in 2019 can apply for renewal funding to begin implementing their plans, while states that did not receive planning grants may re-apply or apply this year for initial grants. Following the deadline, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) will review application submissions and announce which states will be awarded the grants by December 31st.
In December 2015, PDGs were authorized as part of the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The grants demonstrate a deliberate effort to reduce fragmentation and duplication of services while fostering connections across early learning programs and between early learning and K-12 education systems within states. The goal of PDG B-5 is to help states build mixed-delivery systems that: maximize parental choice, improve transitions within early learning and care programs, and improve the overall quality of programs within each state.
Last year, 46 states and jurisdictions were awarded initial grants to conduct a needs assessment and then create a strategic plan for their early learning systems. The awards for these initial “planning grants” ranged from $538,000 and $10.6 million. Now, those states can apply for “renewal grants” that would help fund implementation efforts based on their plans. The renewal grants have an estimated total of $206,000,000, and ACF expects to make 23 awards.
The renewal grants are meant to build on the work that states accomplished during year one, and will assist states in the coordination of their existing early childhood services and funding streams in order to serve more children effectively in the mixed delivery system. In September, FFYF and other advocates sent a letter to ACF outlining recommendations for the renewal funding opportunity announcement (FOA). The recommendations included: continuity of funding levels, encouraging partner engagement, and providing technical support to states.
The renewal grant FOA maintains an emphasis on stakeholder engagement and empowering an effective mixed-delivery early learning system to meet the needs of the most vulnerable children and families. The FOA for the renewal grants requires states to update their strategic plan at least once during the renewal period and evaluate program performance.
States and territories that applied for, but did not receive the initial planning grants last year are able to apply for planning grants again this year. This applies to the following jurisdictions: Idaho, South Dakota, Tennessee, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. These grant awards have an estimated total of $36,500,000.
Additionally, Tennessee, which received a Legacy Preschool Development Grant – a previous, but now defunct iteration of the Preschool Development Grants program – is eligible to apply for either a planning or renewal grant this year.